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wickitom
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Whats more important, better quality headphones or dac?

I currently have Bose Tri-Port Headphones connected to my Thinkpad T400 laptop and playing flac quality files.
I was thinking of buying nicer headphones and a USB DAC, but do to money constraints i will upgrade to only of of those.

What is more important in hearing more quality from your files, better headphones or getting a USB DAC and powering my Bose headphones. Another way of thinking would be if you were going to buy a system consisted of headphones and a USB DAC and both components each on a scale 1 through 10, 10 being perfect, added together need to equal 10. Is it better lets say to get headphones that are 7/10 and a USB DAC 3/10 or get it the other way, USB DAC 7/10 and headphoens 3/10, maybe both 5/10.

I am assuming getting higher quality headphones connected to my laptop would do only little in quality of the music.

Demondog
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Re: Whats more important, better quality headphones or dac?

Normally I'd upgrade what is holding back the sound the most. Don't know if it's your headphone or source, since I'm not familiar with either.

In the rating scenario, if my choices were more or less final, I'd try to match the source and headphone, with both 5/10. Having a weak link with a very strong one will mostly waste the advantage of the superior link, but that doesn't mean you can't do it.

If I were planning to upgrade just one now, but thinking of upgrading the other some time down the road, I'd probably splurge on the source. The best headphones won't make a compromised source sound any better than it is.

andy19191
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Re: Whats more important, better quality headphones or dac?

> I am assuming getting higher quality headphones connected
> to my laptop would do only little in quality of the music.

You have never been to a department store and listened to the difference in sound between headphones?

JoeE SP9
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Re: Whats more important, better quality headphones or dac?

Get a USB DAC with a headphone amp built in. Benchmark makes a very nice one. Then, get some "decent" headphones (Grado 225I or 325I for example) so you can hear how good the DAC is.

struts
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Re: Whats more important, better quality headphones or dac?

I would go for a decent USB DAC. The rationale is that a good headphone amplifier will allow you to enjoy most headphones, while the very cheap opamp in a laptop will only drive easy loads (i.e. would really struggle with the AKG 701s you were asking about in the other thread) and even then with pretty low fidelity. You may even find that a good headphone amp/DAC represents such an improvement that you can wait with new headphones!

soundwavesurfer
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It applies even on 2021

I have had a Sennheiser HD 201 by 7 years and having the option to purchase a DAC or better headphones, I opted for the DAC.
Now I have the same headphones but with a Shanling UA DAC. It has 32 bit PCM and DSD 512 . It gave new life to my headphones. Despite being the most basic of the decent, I can distinguish more details way better.
Maybe the next year I would get a Audiotechnica M40X or something from the same level.

Best regards!

manunkind
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With my purely subjective

With my purely subjective limited experience, I'd rate headphones at 60% of total purchase price, then amp at 30% and DAC at 10%. Yes, nice headphones do need a proper amplifier to bring it out, hut let's face it- the DAC is just that, a digital-to-analogue-converter. Sure, the better the quality the better the sound... But upgrading all three, headphones quality made by far the biggest difference.

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